Key points

  • Each week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) releases the number of deaths recorded from any cause. For the week ending 1 May 2020, a total of 17,953 deaths were recorded. This is a slight decrease from the week ending 17 April, when a total of 22,351 deaths were recorded, the highest number recorded by the ONS in 20 years.
  • The ONS also has a record of the place of death for COVID-19 related deaths, and all deaths. This data has now been released each week since the week ending 13 March 2020.
  • Relative to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in England and Wales, care homes have seen the biggest increase in deaths over time compared to deaths that have occurred in other settings. Deaths in care homes from all causes are starting to stabilise but remain 159% higher than at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Note: This page was originally published on 22 April 2020. It was updated on 5 May 2020 and 13 May 2020 with the latest data.

  • Care homes includes homes for the chronic sick; nursing homes; homes for people with mental health problems and non-NHS multi function sites.
  • Deaths at home are those at the usual residence of the deceased (according to the informant)‚ where this is not a communal establishment.
  • Hospices include Sue Ryder Homes; Marie Curie Centres; oncology centres; voluntary hospice units; and palliative care centres.
  • Hospital includes acute or community, not psychiatric.
  • Other communal establishments include schools for people with learning disabilities; holiday homes and hotels; common lodging houses; aged persons’ accommodation; assessment centres; schools; convents and monasteries; nurses’ homes; university and college halls of residence; young offender institutions; secure training centres; detention centres; prisons and remand homes.
  • Elsewhere includes all places not covered above such as deaths on a motorway; at the beach; climbing a mountain; walking down the street; at the cinema; at a football match; while out shopping; or in someone else's home. This category also includes people who are pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Source: Office for National Statistics, Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional.

Each week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) releases the number of deaths recorded from any cause. For the week ending 1 May 2020, a total of 17,953 deaths were recorded. This is a decrease from the week ending 17 April, when a total of 22,351 deaths were recorded, the highest number recorded by the ONS in 20 years.

The ONS also records whether a death occurred in an acute or community hospital, a care home, another type of communal establishment, in a private home, or elsewhere. Since the week ending 13 March 2020, they have also released the total number of deaths each week in each of these categories, for both COVID-19 related and all deaths.

Where are most deaths occurring?

For the first time since the week ending 13 March 2020 when data are first available, more people are dying in care homes with 6,409 deaths from any cause recorded in the week ending 1 May 2020 than in hospitals where there were 6,397 deaths. 

Where are the number of deaths increasing most rapidly?

Relative to the start of the coronavirus outbreak, care homes have seen the biggest increase in deaths over time. In the week ending 1 May 2020, there were 6,409 deaths recorded from any cause in care homes in England and Wales. This is a 159% increase, from 2,471 in the week ending 13 March 2020 but slightly lower than the week ending 24 April 2020 when 7,911 died in care homes.

How many of these deaths are related to COVID-19?

Care homes and the wider adult social care system play a vital role in caring for the most vulnerable people. Outbreaks of infectious disease can be particularly challenging to manage in care homes. Residents may have dementia or other conditions that make isolating them particularly challenging, and infection control outside a hospital setting is difficult.

In the week ending 1 May 2020, there were 2,423 COVID-19 related deaths recorded in care homes, 3,214 recorded in hospitals and 254 recorded in private homes.

However, the figure for care homes is likely to be an underestimate. The increase of 3,938 deaths from any cause is likely to be a more accurate indication of the scale of the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic on those living in care homes. In the week ending 1 May 2020, 38% of deaths in care homes were COVID-19 related compared to 35% in the week ending 24 April 2020 and 28% in the week ending 17 April. This could be an early sign that recording of cause of death is improving but more data on the underlying causes of death and other health needs is needed to fully understand this.

Better surveillance of deaths and the impact of COVID-19 in care homes is clearly urgently needed, in a timely manner. This must now be a focus.

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